Sunday, October 02, 2005

Food: Italian: Opah 'Crudo'

The New Yorker's annual food issue came out in September, and a colleague was kind enough to give me their copy. The most intriguing story for me was the piece on Dave Pasternak of Esca in New York. The article related how Mario Batali and his business partner Joseph Bastianich wooed Pasternak into opening an Italian restaurant with a fish-focus back in 1999.

Before opening the restaurant, the three of them toured the southern coast of Italy extensively, and we're surprised to find that people were eating a whole lot of raw fish. Often served with just olive oil, herbs, and peppers. Based on the descriptions in the magazine, some menu items from the Esca website, and the photos from their gallery I decided to give this a whirl.

I picked up some Opah ( aka moonfish or Lampris regius), a naturally fatty and mild fish native to the pacific. Slicing the fish thinly enough that it was transparent, was relatively easy. Sharp knife, cold fish. I sliced along the long dimension of the hunk pictured at right. This may or may not be the correct way to slice. The longer pieces did break along the fat streaks.

After placing the fish on the dishes you see below, I poured a teaspoon of olive oil over each, and added some minced mint from my herb garden, along with finely diced peppers that a friend had given us. The overall flavor of the dish was pleasant, even unexpected, but still very mild. Salt helped punch it up some, next time around I may also go with white pepper.

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